Kuno Francke.

The German classics : masterpieces of German literature translated into English (Volume 20) online

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past —
For what came then, I only am to blame :
Thy brightness waxed within my gloomy soul
Like moons in fog —

[Ganem listens as before. Sobeide with
groiving wildness.']

Suppose thou loved me not:
Why didst thou lie ? If I was aught to thee.
Why hast thou lied to me ? speak to me —
Am I not worth an answer?

[Weird music and voices are heard outside.~\
Ganem. Yes, by heaven.

It is the old man's voice and Giilistane's!
[Down the stairs come a fluting dwarf and an
effeminate-looking slave playing a lute,
preceded by others with lights; then Shal-
NASSAR, leaning on Gulistane; finally a
eunuch with a whip stuck in his belt.
GiJLiSTANE frees herself and comes for-
ward, seeming to search the floor for some-
thing; the others come forward also. The
music ceases.']
GiJLisTANE (over her shoulder, to Shalnassar).

1 miss a tiny jar, of swarthy onyx

And filled with ointment. Art thou ling 'ring

Thou Bachtjar 's daughter ? Bend thy lazy back
And try to find it.

[SoBEiDE is silent, looking at Ganem.]


Shalnass. Let it be and come!

I'll give thee hundreds more.
GiJLisTANE. It was a secret,

The ointment in it.
Ganem (close to Gulistane ) . What means this procession ?
Shalnass. Come on, why not 1 The aged cannot wait.

And ye, advance! Bear lights and make an
uproar !

Be drunken : what has night to do with sleep !

Advance up to the door, then stay behind !

[The slaves form in order again.^
Ganem (furious).

Door, door? What door?
Shalnass. (to GiJLisTANE, who lemis against him).

Say, shall I give an answer?

If so, I '11 do 't to flatter thee. If not,

'Twill be to show thee that my happiness

Requireth not old envy's flattery.
Ganem (to Gulistane).

Say no, say he is lying!
Gulistane. ' Go, good Ganem,

And let us pass. Thy father is recovered.

And we are glad of it. Why stand so gloomy?

One must be merry with the living, eh.

While yet they live? [She looks into his eyes.']
Ganem (snatches the whip from the eunuch).

Old woman, for what purpose is this whip?

Now flee and scatter, crippled, halting folly!
[He strikes at the musicians and the lights,
then casts down the whip.]

Out, shameful lights, and thou, to bed with thee,

Puffed, swollen body ; and ye bursting veins,

Ye reddened eyes, and thou putrescent mouth,

Off to a solitary bed, and night,

Dark, noiseless night instead of brazen torches

And blaring horns !

[He motions the old man out.]


Shalnass. (bends with an effort to take the whip).

Mine is the whip, not thine !
SoBEiDE {cries out).

His father ! Son and father for one woman !
GuLisTANE {wrests the whip out of Shalnassar's hand).

Go thou to bed thyself, hot-headed Ganem,

And leave together them that would be joined.

Rebuke thy father not. An older man

Can pass a sounder judgment, is more faithful

Than wanton youth. Hast thou not company?

Old Bachtjar's daughter stands there in the

And often I've been told that she is fair.

I know right well, thou wast in love with her.

So then good night. [They all turn to go.']

Ganem {wildly). Go not with him!

GiJLiSTANE {speaking backward over her shoulder). I go

Where'er my heart commands.
Ganem {beseechingly). Go not with him!

GiJLisTANE. Oh, let us through : there will be other days.
Ganem {lying before her on the stairs).

Go not with him!
GiJLisTANE {turning around).

Thou daughter of old Bachtjar^

Keep him, I say, I want him not, I trample

Upon his fingers with my feet ! Seest thou I
SoBEiDE {as if demented).

Aye, aye, now let us dance a merry round !

Take thou my hand and Ganem 's; I Shalnas-

Our hair we'll loosen, and that one of us

That has the longer hair shall have the young one

Tonight — tomorrow just the other way!

King Baseness sits enthroned ! And from our

Lies drip like poison from the salamander !


I claim my share in your high revelry.

{To Ganem, ivJio angrily ivatches them mount

the stairs.)
Go up and steal her from thy father's bed
And choke him sleeping : drunken men are help-
less !
I see how fain thou art to lie with her.
When thou are sated or wouldst have a change,
Then come to me, but softly we will tread.
For heavy sleep comes not to my old husband,
Such as they have, who can give ear to this,
And then sleep through it!

[She casts herself on the floor.]
But with grievous howling
I will arouse this house to shame and wrath
And lamentation . . .

(She lies groaning.)

... I have loved thee so.
And so thou tramplest on me !

[An old slave appears in the background,
putting out the lights; he picks up a fallen
fruit and eats it.]
Ganbm {claps his hands in sudden anger).

Come, take her out ! Here is a shrieking woman,
I scarcely know her, says she weeps for me.
Her father fain would wed her to the merchant,
The wealthy one, but she perverts the whole.
And says her husband is a similar pander.
But he's no more than fool, for aught I see.
{He steps close to her, mockingly sympathetic.)
ye, too credulous by far. But then.
Your nature 's more to blame than skill of ours.
No, get thee up. I will no more torment thee.
SoBEiDE {raises herself up. Her voice is hard).

Then naught was true, and back of all is naught.
From this I cannot cleanse myself again :
What came into my soul today, remaineth.



Another might dispel it: I'm too weary.

{Stands up.)
Away! I know my course, but now away
From here !

[The old slave has gone sloivly down the
stairs. 1
Ganem. I will not hold thee. Yet the road —

How wilt thou find it? Still, thou foundst it
SoBEiDB. The road, the self -same road!

{She shudders.) Yon aged man
Shall go with me. I have no fear, but still
I would not be alone : until the dawn —

[Ganem goes up stage to fetch the slave.^
SoBEiDE. Meseems I wear a robe to which the pest
And horrid traces of mid drunkenness
And wilder nights are clinging, and I cannot
Put off the robe, but all my flesh goes too.
Now I must die, and all will then be w^ell.
But speedily, before this shadow-thinking
About my father gathers blood again :
Else 'twill grow stronger, drag me back to life.
And I must travel onward in this body.
Ganem {slowly leads the old slave forward).

Give heed. This is rich Chorab's wife, the

Hast understood?
Old Slave {nods). The rich one.


Old Slave.


Aye, thou shalt
Escort her.

I say, thou art to lead her
Back to her house.

(Old Slave nods.)

Just to the garden wall.
From there I only know how I must go.
Will he do that?* I thank thee. That is good.
Most good. Come, aged man, I go with thee.


Ganem. Go out this door, the old man knows the path.
SoBEiDE. He knows it, that is good, most good. We go.
[They go out through the door at the right.
Ganem turns to mount the stairs.^

Scene III

The garden of the rich merchant. The high wall runs from the right fore-
ground backward toward the left. Steps lead to a small latticed gate in
the wall.' To the left a winding path is lost among the trees. It is early
morning. The shrubs are laden unth blossoms, and the meadows are full
of flowers. In the foreground the gardener and his wife are engaged in
taking delicate blooming shrubs from an open barrow and setting them
in prepared holes.

Gaedener. The rest are coming now. But no, that is

A single man . . . The master !
Wife. What? He's up

Ere dawn, and yesterday his wedding-day?
Alone he walks the garden — that's no man
Like other men.
Gardener. Be still, he 's coming hither.

Merchant {walks up slowly from the left).

The hour of morn, before the sun is up.
When all the branches in the lifeless light
Hang dead and dull, is terrible. I feel
As if I saw the whole world in a frightful
And vacant glass, as dreary as my mind's eye.
would all flowers might wither! Would my

Were poisonous morass, filled to the full
With rotted corpses of these blooming trees,
And my corpse in their midst.

[He is pulling to pieces a blossoming twig,
stops short and drops it.]

Ah, what a fool !
A gray-haired fool, as old as melancholy,
Ridiculous as old! I'll sit me down
And bind up wreaths and weep into the water.
[He walks on a few paces, lifts his hand as
if involuntarily to his heart.}


axAJ ajiugi'jc*viii,s



From the Painting hy Walter LeidiJcmv





how like giass this is, and how the finger
With which fate raps upon it, like to iron!
Years form no rings on men as on the trees,
Nor fashion breast-plates to protect the heart.
[Again he walks a few paces, and so comes
upon the gardener, who takes off his straw
hat; he starts up out of his r every, and
looks inquiringly at the gardener.']
Thy servant Sheriar, lord; third gardener I.
What? Sheriar, Oh yes. And this thy wife?
Aye, lord.

But she is younger far than thou,
And once thou cam'st to me to make complaint
■That she and some young lad, — I can't re-
call . . .
It was the donkey-driver.

So I chased
Him from my service, and she ran away.
Gardener {bowing low).

Thou know'st the sacred courses of the stars,
Yet thou rememberest the worm as well,
That in the dust once crawled beside thy feet.
'Tis so, my lord. But she returned to me,
And lives with me thenceforth.
Merchant. And lives with thee ?

The fellow beat her, doubtless ! Thou dost not.
[He turns away, his tone becomes bitter.]
Why, let us seat ourselves here in the grass,
And each will tell his story to the other.
He lives with her thenceforth. WYij yes, he

has her!
Possession is the end of all ! And folly
It were to scorn the common, when our life
Is made up of the common through and through.
[Exit to the right with vigorous strides.]
Wife {to the gardener).

What did he say to thee?



Gardener. Oh, nothing, nothing.

[SoBEiDE and the camel-driver appear at the
latticed gate.']
Wife. I'll tell thee something.

[Draws near him.']
Look, look there !
The bride! That is our master's bride!
And see how pale and overwrought.
Gardener. Pay heed

To thine affairs.
Wife. Look there, she has no veil,

And see who's with her. Look. Why, that is

Of master's servants, is it?
Gardener. I don't know.

[SoBEiDE puts her arm, through the lattice,
seeking the lock.]
Wife, She wants to enter. Hast thou not the key!

Gardener {looking up).

Aye, that I have, and since she is the mistress,
She must be served before she opes her lips.
[He goes to the gate and unlocks it. Sobeide
enters, the old slave behind her. The
gardener locks the gate. Sobeide walks
forward ivith absent look, the old slave
following. The gardener walks past her,
takes off his straw hat, and is about to re-
turn to his work. The wife stands a few
paces to the rear, parts the bushes curi-
Sobeide. Pray tell me, is the pond not here at hand,
The big one, with the willows on its banks f
Gardener {pointing to the right).

Down there it lies, my mistress, thou canst

see it.
But shall I guide thee?




Old Slave


SoBEiDE (with a vehement gesture). No, no, leave me, go !
\^She is about to go off toward the right; the
old slave catches her dress and holds her
back. She turns. Old Slave holds out his
hand like a beggar, but withdraws it at
once in embarrassment.']

Thou art at home, I 'm going back again.
Oh yes, and I have robbed thee of thy sleep.
And give thee naught for it. And thou art old
And poor. But I have nothing, less than

nothing !
As poor as I no beggar ever was.

[Old Slave screws up his face to laugh, holds
out his hand again.]
Sobeide {looks helplessly about her, puts her hand to her
hair, feels her pearl pendants, takes them off',
and gives them to him).
Take this, and this, and go !
Old Slave {shakes his head). Oh no, not that!

SoBEmE {in a torment of haste).

I give them gladly, only go, I beg of thee !

[Starts away.]
Old Slave {holds them in his hand).

No, take them back. Give me some little coin.
I'm but a poor old fool. And they would come,
Shalnassar and the others, down upon me,
And take the pearls away. For I am old
And such a beggar. This would be my ruin.
I have naught else. But come again tonight
And bring them to the master here, my husband,
He'll give thee money for them.

Ask but for him ; go now and let me go.

[Starts away.]


Old Slave.


Old Slave {holds her back).

If he is kind, oh do thou pray for me,
That he may take me as a servant. He
Is rich and has so many. I am eager,
Need little sleep. But in Shalnassar's house
I always have such hunger in the evening.
I will —
SoBEmE {frees herself).

Just come tonight and speak to him,
And say I wanted him to hear thy prayer.
Now go, I beg thee, for I have no time.

[The old slave goes toward the gate, but
stands still in the shrubbery. The garden-
er's wife has approached Sobeide from the
left. Sobeide takes a few steps, then lets
her vacant glance ivander about, strikes
her brow as if she had forgotten something .
She suddenly stands still before the gar-
dener's wife, looks at her absently, then
inquires hastily:']
The pond is there, I hear? The pond?

[Points to the left.]
Wife. No, here.

[Points to the right.]
Here down this winding path. It turns right

Wouldst overtake my lord? He's walking

slowly :
When thou art at the crossways, thou wilt see

Thou canst not miss him.
Sobeide {more agitated). I, the master?

Wife. Why yes, dost thou not seek him?

Sobeide. Him? — Yes, yes,

Then — I '11 — go — there.

[Her glance roves anxiously, suddenly is
fixed upon an invisible object at the left


The tower, is it locked?
Wife. The tower?

SoBEiDE. Yes, the steps to mount it.

Wife. No,

The tower's never locked, by day or night.
Dost thou not know?
SoBEiDE. Oh yes.

Wife. Wilt thou go up it !

SoBEiDE (smiling painfully).

No, no, not now. Perhaps another time.
(Smiling with a friendly gesture.)
Go, then. Go, go.


The tower, the tower!
And quick. He comes from there. Soon 'tis
too late.

[She looks searchingly about her, walks
slowly at first to the left, then runs through
the shrubbery. The old slave, who has
watched her attentively, slowly follows
Gaedener (through with his work).

Come here and help me, wife.
Wife. Yes, right away.

[They take up the barrow and carry it along
toward the right.]
Merchant (enters from the right.)

I loved her so ! Ah, how this life of ours
Resembles dreams illusory. Today
I might have had her, here and always, I !
Possession is the whole : slow-growing power
That sifts down through the soul's unseen and

Interstices, feeds thus the wondrous lamp
Within the spirit, and soon from such eyes
There bursts a mightier, sweeter gleam than


Oh, I have loved her so ! I fain would see her,
See her once more. My eye sees naught but

death :
The flowers wilt before my eyes like candles,
AVhen they begin to run : all, all is dying.
And all dies to no purpose, for she is •
Not here —

IThe old camel-driver comes running from
the left across the stage to the gardener
and shows him something that seems to he
happening rather high in the air to the left;
the gardener calls his wife's attention to it,
and all look.']
Merchant {becomes aivare of this, follows the direction of
their glances, grows deathly pale).
God, God ! Give answer ! There, there, there !
The woman on the tower, bending forward,
Why does she so bend forward? Look, look
there ! [Wipe shrieks and covers her face.]
Gardener {runs to the left, looks, calls hack).

She lives and moves ! Come, master, come this
[The merchant runs out, the gardener's wife
following. Immediately thereafter the
merchant, the gardener, and his wife come
carrying Sobeide, and lay her doivn in the
grass. The gardener takes off his outer
garment and lays it under her head. The
old camel-driver stands at some distance.']
Merchant {kneeling).

Thou breathest, thou wilt live for me, thou

Thou art too fair to die!
Sobeide {opens her eyes).

Forbear, I 'm dying ; hush, I know^ it well.
Dear husband, hush, I beg thee. Thee I had
Not thought to see again ^ —
I need to crave thy pardon.











(tenderly). Thou!

Not this.
This had to be. — No, what took place last night :
I did to thee what should become no woman,
And all my destiny I grasped and treated
As I in dancing used to treat my veils.
With fingers vain I tampered with my Self.
Speak not, but understand.

AVliat happened — then 1
Ask not what happened ; ask me not, I beg thee.
I had before been weary: 'twas the same
Up to the end. But now 'tis easy. Thou
Art good, I'll tell thee something else: my

parents —
Thou knowest how they are — I bid thee take

To live with thee.

Yes, yes, but thou wilt live.
No, say not so ; but mark, I fain would tell thee
A many things. Oh yes, that graybeard man.
He's very poor, take him into thy house
At my request.
Now thou shalt bide with me.
I will thy every wish divine : breathe softly
As e 'er thou wilt, yet I will be the lyre
To- answer every breath with harmony.
Until thou weary and bid it be still.
Say not such words, for I am dizzy and
They flicker in my eyes. Lament not much,
I beg of thee. If I remained alive,
All mangled as I am, I never could
Bring children into life for thee ; my body
Would be so ugly, whereas formerly
I know I had some beauty. This w^ould be
So hard for thee to bear and hide from me.
But I shall die at once, I know, my dear.
This is so strange : our spirits dwell in us
Like captive birds. And when the cage is



It flies away. No, no, thou must not smile :
I feel it is so. Look, the flowers know it,
And shine the brighter since I know it too.
Canst thou not understand? Mark well my
words. IPduse.']

Art thou still there, and I too, all this while?
Oh, now I see thy face, and it is other
Than e 'er I saw till now. Art thou my husband I

Merchant. My child!

SoBEmE. Thy spirit seems to bend and lean

Out of thine eyes, and oh, the words thou

speakest !
They quiver in the air, because the heart
So quivers, whence they come. Weep not, I can
Not bear it, for I love thee so. let
Me see as last of all thine eyes. We should
Have lived together long and had our children.
But now 'tis fearful — for my parents.


Merchant (half bowed).

Thus noiseless falls a star. Meseems, her heart
Was never close united with the world.
And what have I of her, except this glance.
Whose closing was involved in rigid Lethe,
And in such words as by false breath of life
Were made to sound so strong, e'en while they

Just as the wind, ere he lies down to sleep.
Deceitful swells the sails as ne'er before.

[He rises.}
Aye, lift her up. So bitter is this life :
A wish was granted her, and that one door
At which she lay with longing and desire
Was oped — and back she came in such distress.
Death-stricken, that but issued forth the even-
ing prior —
As fishers, cheeks with sun and moon afire.
Prepare their nets — in hopes of great success.
[They lift up the body to carry it in.]



A Grotesque in One Act


Emile, Due de Cadignan

FEANgois, Vicomte de Nogeant

Albin, Chevalier de la Tremouille

Mabquis de Lansac

SfvERiNE, his ivife

RoLLiN, Poet

Prosper (formerly Theatre Manager), Host






Etib^stne I nia troupe





LECAFf^^E, Actress, tvife of Henri

Grasset, Philosopher

Lebr£t, Tailor

Grain, a vagabond

The Commissaire of Police

Nobles, Actors, Actresses, Citizens, and Citizens^ Wives

The Action takes place in P^ris in the evening of the I4:th July, 1789, in
the underground tavern of Prosper.

Vol. XX - 19


translated by horace samuel

Scene. — The Tavern of the GtReen Cockatoo

A medmm-sized underground room. Seven steps lead down to it on the
Right {rather far hack). The stairs are shut off hy a door on top. A
second door which is harely visible is in the haekground on the Left.
A number of simple wooden tables with chairs around them fill nearly
the whole room. On the Left in the Centre is a bar; behind the bar a
number of barrels toith pipes. The room is lighted by small oil lamps
which hang from the ceiling.

The Host, Prosper. Enter the citizens Lebret and Grasset.

RASSET {coming down the steps). Come in,

Lebret. I know the tap. My old friend and

chief has always got a cask of wine smuggled

away somewhere or other, even when all the

rest of Paris is perishing of thirst.

Host. Good evening, Grasset. So you show your face

again, do you? Away with Philosophy! Have you a

wish to take an engagement with me again?

Grasset. The idea! Bring some Avine rather. I am

the guest — you the host.
Host. Wine? Where shall I get wine from, Grasset?
They've sacked all the wine-shops in Paris this very
night. And I would lieve wager that you had a hand
Grasset. Out with the wine. The mob who are coming an
hour after us are bound — {Listening.) Do you hear
anything, Lebret?
Lebret. It is like slight thunder.

Grasset. Good! — Citizens of Paris — {To Host.)
You're sure to have another barrel in reserve for the
mob — so out with our wine; my friend and admirer,
the Citizen Lebret, tailor of the Rue St. Honore, will
pay for everything.




Lebret. Certainly, certainly, I will pay.

[Host hesitates,']

GrEASSET. Sliow liim that you have pioney, Lebret.

[Lebret draws out his purse.']

Host. Now I will see if I — {He opens the cock of a, bar-
rel and fills tivo glasses.) Where do yon come from,
Grasset? The Palais-Royal?

Geasset. For sure — I made a speech there. Ay, my
good friend, it is my turn now. Do you know whom I
spoke after?

Host. Well?

Grasset. After Camille Desmoulins. Yes, indeed, I dared
to do it. And tell me, Lebret, who had the greater
applause — Desmoulins or I?

Lebret. You — without a doubt.

Grasset. And how did I bear myself?

Lebret. Splendidly.

Grasset. Do you hear, Prosper? I placed myself on the
table — I looked like a monument — indeed I did — and
all the thousands — five thousands, ten thousands,
assembled round me — just as they had done before
round Camille Desmoulins — and cheered me.

Lebret. It was a louder cheer,

Grasset. Indeed it was . . . not much louder, but it was
louder. And now they're all moving toward the Bas-
tille . . . and I make bold to say they have followed
my call. I swear to you before the evening is out we
shall have it.

Host. Yes, to be sure, if the walls fall down before your
speeches !

Grasset. What — speeches — are you deaf? 'Tis a case
of shooting now. Our valiant soldiers are there. They
have the same hellish fury against the accursed prison
as we have. They know that their brothers and
fathers sit imprisoned behind those walls. . . . But
there would have been no shooting if we had not spoken.
My dear Prosper, great is the power of intellect.
There — {to Lebret) where are the papers?


Lebbet. Here! {Pulls pamphlets out of his pocket.)

Grasset. Here are the latest pamphlets which have just
been distributed in the Palais-Royal. . Here is one by
my friend Cerutti — " Memorial for the French Peo-
ple ; ' ' here is one by Desmoulins, who certainly speaks
better than he writes — " Free France."

Host. When's your own pamphlet going to appear — the
one you're always talking about, you know?

Grasset. We need no more. The time has come for deeds.
Anyone who sits within his four walls today is a knave.
Every real man must go out into the streets.

Lebret. Bravo ! — Bravo !

Grasset. In Toulon they have killed the mayor; in Brig-
nolles they have sacked a dozen houses ; but we in Paris
are always sluggards and will put up with anything.

Host. You can scarcely say that now.

Lebret {who has been drinking steadily). Up, you citi-

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